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Human rights push in ICANN “has become badly misdirected”

World News Publishing Focus

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Human rights push in ICANN “has become badly misdirected”

ICANN’s commitment to human rights was included as the organisation’s Bylaws Core Value in May, launching the work on defining the exact meaning of the commitment in terms of implementable practices relating to ICANN’s policy and operations. But the Internet Governance Project (IGP) has warned that this work has taken an erroneous path.

According to IGP, the discussions have mostly focused on getting ICANN to recognise the so-called “Ruggie principles”, which refers to “The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.” The issue is, these principles were created with business operations in mind. IGP therefore warns that they are not relevant to ICANN’s “substantive policies and regulations pertaining to domain names”.

When human rights commitment was included in ICANN’s agenda, the intention was to establish principles that ensure that ICANN’s decisions relating to domain name policies respect human rights.  These decisions can “subject domain name registrants to surveillance, rob people of the right to use generic words as domains, restrict the use of domains as forms of expression, and make domains more expensive than they need to be”, IGP says.

Instead, taking the “Ruggie principles” as a framework risks missing the target, turning the focus on “the business operations of contractors and associates of ICANN itself”, rather than ICANN’s policy making process.

IGP proposes to include a human rights impact assessment as part of any ICANN policy decision instead.


Teemu Henriksson's picture

Teemu Henriksson


2016-10-27 12:15

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